Councillors to put business rates under microscope
BUSINESS rates will be placed under the microscope when Lismore City councillors participate in a workshop to explore the possibility of reducing the cost for CBD traders.
Councillors carried a foreshadowed motion put forward Cr Neil Marks in an overwhelming majority after the Deputy Mayor, Gianpiero Battista's initial motion to review reducing city-centre rates was voted down in a crashing loss.
At Tuesday night's council meeting, Cr Battista's motion highlighted the need to reduce the CBD's high rates, which has been a "historical issue" with traders forking out more than three times the rates than those outside the city centre.
Heavy scrutiny of Cr Battista's original motion led to Cr Marks drafting the foreshadowed motion.
Cr Marks said he couldn't support the initial motion because it didn't involve a review of all rates across the local government area.
He also didn't want to inflict higher costs on other businesses around Lismore and its surrounds.
"I don't want to force rate rises on other areas of business for the benefit of others without understanding what benefits there are from other areas within the local government area," Cr Marks said.
Speaking in support of Cr Marks' motion, Cr Elly Bird said the workshop would provide "the opportunity to look disparities across our city."
"Economic stimulation is what will return our city to the fantastic place we all know and love," Cr Bird said.
Based on his discussions with a cross section of business owners, Mayor Isaac Smith said he wanted improved rate equality within the greater business community.
Cr Greg Bennett was critical of both motions.
He said there's "zero appetite for us to pass one rate increase from one set of ratepayers to another."
"I think this is going to be a waste of staff time and (councillors') time to go down this road," Cr Bennett said.
"The only way we can reduce the CBD rate is to cut costs."